Crafting isn't just about creating beautiful objects; it's about pouring your heart and soul into every piece, overcoming challenges, and cherishing the process. I’m currently participating in the MADE in Kilkenny / Made Local craft exhibition at the National Design and Craft Gallery in Castle Yard, Kilkenny, and my journey there has been filled with creativity, sweat, a touch of panic, and ultimately, a great sense of achievement.
The exhibition brought together 28 makers from diverse craft disciplines, each contributing their unique flair to the showcase. From jewellery and ceramics to basket weaving, furniture making, woodturning, candle making, stone masonry, and glass blowing, the event was a celebration of craftsmanship in its myriad forms.
A key challenge I faced when preparing for the exhibition was to bring my complicated ring design to life. During a night of insomnia, I had envisioned a pendant that could be detached and worn separately, or reattached to the ring, creating a beautiful and versatile accessory. The process of turning this idea into reality was a meticulous dance with fractions of millimetres. I tinkered, adjusted, and refined my design until I achieved a happy balance between functionality and aesthetics.
As any maker knows, the journey is rarely without its bumps, and I faced my own minor disaster the night before the exhibition. While polishing one of the finished rings, my attention wavered, and disaster struck. The machine grabbed the ring, leaving it damaged and in dire need of repair. The clock ticked past midnight, and I found myself burning the midnight oil, tirelessly working until 2:30 am to mend what was damaged. Can I recommend turning up the music and opening a bag of jellies to anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation!
The experience served as a reminder of the importance of time management and avoiding the perilous trap of procrastination. Murphy's Law, it seemed, had made a surprise appearance. However, the silver lining was that I restored the ring to its former glory and learned a tough lesson, reinforcing the need to plan, execute, and manage my time more efficiently!
Participating in the exhibition wasn't just about showcasing the final products – it was about sharing stories, connecting with fellow makers, and embracing the spirit of camaraderie that defines the crafting community. The exhibition was launched on Saturday 12th August by author and journalist Fintan O’Toole, whose speech aptly honoured the dedication and passion that go into each handcrafted piece, saying that they are: “Made by hand, handed over, then handed down.”
It was heart-warming to see the efforts of makers being recognised and celebrated, underscoring the importance of preserving and promoting traditional crafts in a world that often leans toward mass production.
The eclectic array of crafts on display is a testament to human ingenuity and creativity, and it is an honour to stand among such talented artisans.
Looking back on that sleepless night when I came up with the idea for my exhibition pieces, I feel quite fortunate and deeply satisfied. The pendant-ring combination that once existed only in my imagination is now a tangible reality. Every hurdle, every setback, and every triumph contributes to the tapestry of my crafting journey. Who'd have thought work could be this much fun!!
The MADE in Kilkenny exhibition will run in the National Design & Craft Gallery, Castle Yard, Kilkenny until October 28th.